Launched in November 2019, the UAE’s EDGE is one of the world’s leading advanced technology groups, established to develop agile, bold and disruptive solutions for defence and beyond, and to be a catalyst for change and transformation.
To learn more about this leading advanced technology group and its important future projects, Al-Jundi interviewed Mr Mansour Mohamed AlMulla, the Managing Director and CEO of EDGE Group and had the following dialogue with him:
Tell us about EDGE Group and its areas of business in general, the company’s key products and solutions, and how satisfied customers are with them.
As a leading advanced technology and defence group, the consolidation of defence companies under EDGE has enabled us to collaborate more, focus our efforts on relevant research and development (R&D), consistently upgrade our capabilities, and progress efficiently and at speed, delivering for our key clients and markets.
At EDGE, our key priorities focus on three core domains: autonomous capabilities, smart weapons and electronic warfare. As our innovative, emerging technologies define us, our client base continues to seek our products as we deliver sound solutions to evolving challenges and threats.
The Gulf region’s market is currently witnessing intense competition. What makes EDGE Group’s products attractive to customers?
While competition is a constant within the defence industry, EDGE places priority on emerging technologies and intellectual property (IP) localisation, to encourage innovation and attract key market customers. We are constantly creating innovative products to satisfy specific customer needs, meeting unique regional requirements with sound technology and defence solutions, whilst always ensuring we are competitive when compared to the competition from specifications, performance and price standpoints.
In your opinion, what are the defence solutions and technologies that the region is currently lacking in your area of expertise?
One of our many strategic priorities at EDGE is to help build sovereign capabilities and also contribute to economic growth by expanding/diversifying our product portfolios for export. To accomplish these goals, our development programs and strategies have been focused on three main domains:
1- Advancing autonomous capabilities and competitive solutions across air, land and sea. The aim here is to create sought-after systems that can neutralise threats using autonomous capabilities, with AI and Machine Learning features.
2- We are also focused on electronic warfare (EW) technologies, including secure communications and countermeasures to deal with threats.
3- we are seeking out advanced armaments that will see the development of next-generation smart weapons.
By investing in people and technology, we believe our efforts will spark a thriving local defence sector secured by innovations, partnerships, and an experienced workforce.
How do you see artificial intelligence, which has become the beating heart of many sectors and an essential tool in the military and defence sector? What are your company’s key projects in this field?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is undeniably the transformative force driving innovation across all sectors, including the defence industry. At EDGE, we envision AI as the catalyst for unleashing the full potential of autonomous systems, smart weapons, and electronic warfare solutions.
To stay at the forefront, our company’s development programs are more focused on smarter systems, with AI and machine learning capabilities. We are committed to creating next-generation technologies that leverage AI to enhance situational awareness, decision-making capabilities, and operational efficiency. Our key projects focus on developing dynamic, advanced autonomous systems, smart weapons possessing superior targeting and precision, and electronic warfare solutions to counter emerging threats.
How would you evaluate your recent experience and participation in IDEX 2023, and did it meet your expectations and the requirements of the defence sector in general?
IDEX 2023 was a great success for EDGE, as our position as the event’s strategic sponsor contributed to our ability to forge new partnerships with key industry players and act as a representative of the rapidly evolving UAE defence industry.
This success was evidence of the continued innovation of the defence sector, and the huge strides EDGE has made over the last three years in developing certain capabilities that are today being used by the End Users in multiple jurisdictions. Also, during IDEX 2023, we launched further 14 new products, while signing large multi-billion dollar national and international contracts and deals. We believe these major accomplishments were a clear indication that we are on the right trajectory to achieving our goals and ambitions as we increase our global footprint.
What are your plans for the 18th Dubai International Airshow 2023, and what’s new in your participation this year?
We are proud to be the event’s Defence Technology Partner this year and we eagerly look forward to exhibiting a large product portfolio of aviation, defence and technology solutions and services to international industry trailblazers and innovators. EDGE Group will place a particular focus on the disruptive technologies and solutions it’s utilising to transform the aerospace and defence industry, including autonomous capabilities, smart weapons, and electronic warfare, highlighting the interoperability of its highly competitive products across multiple domains. It is also set to showcase the extensive capabilities of its portfolio of cutting-edge companies and business units.
Additionally. we will also highlight the group’s ongoing commitment to supporting localisation as part of the ‘Make it in the Emirates’ initiative, by adopting Industry 4.0 technologies across its operations in full support of the UAE’s Fourth Industrial Revolution strategy which outlines advanced defence manufacturing as one of the key industries of the future.
How important is the UAE and GCC market to EDGE Group?
As an advanced technology and defence company based in the UAE, we continue to play an integral role in the very important home market and also strive to develop valuable partnerships with other GCC countries.
Fully in line with the main objectives set by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, EDGE is developing a defence industrial base in the UAE to generate in-country value through the introduction and use of Industry 4.0 technologies, and helping to position the UAE as a serious global player within the advanced technology industry.
What are your company’s future plans? How do you see the company changing in the coming years?
In the coming years, we will continue to converge commercial market innovations with military capabilities, effectively delivering products and services and growing our exports. By using breakthrough technologies, including AI, we will become a global leader in the field, particularly in the areas of autonomous air, land, and sea solutions, smart weapons, and cyber technologies, including electronic warfare and secure communications. The future is exciting for EDGE, as we will operate on a much more global scale.
What are your recent biggest accomplishments in the defence sector?
As EDGE continues to cooperate with some of the industry’s biggest names, we have reached significant milestones and proud moments. In addition to launching 14 breakthrough products, we have signed over 20 major international agreements this year with major industry players.
It is worth noting that in 2022, EDGE was pleased to report a US$5 billion order intake, 35 per cent of which was in international exports, marking a 500 per cent year-on-year increase. In terms of our current and recent partnerships, we are cooperating with the likes of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, L3Harris, and Raytheon in the US, Embraer in Brazil, Airbus, and Rheinmetall. We also recently announced the opening of a regional office in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia – the first international office outside of the UAE.
In recent months, we have been fortunate to make several acquisitions that have further strengthened our portfolio. For example, we have taken major stakes in solutions specialist companies such as High Lander, a company focused on advanced autonomous air traffic solutions, and Milrem Robotics, a company with an established reputation as a leader in the fields of robotics and autonomous systems.
This year, EDGE also acquired two UAE-based companies who joined our Trading & Mission Support cluster. GRADEONE Group, which specialises in providing military hardware, equipment, pyrotechnics, ammunition, and supplies to various military sectors, and TRUST International Group (‘TRUST’), a defence trading specialist and a major supplier of premium solutions to the UAE Armed Forces and security establishments.
Innovation and cyber security are of great interest to the UAE leadership. What are you doing to enable the UAE to achieve progress in these domains?
These are indeed key areas of national interest, and at EDGE we are fully aligned with this vision. The nation’s continuous investment in new technologies and its unwavering commitment to being on the frontier of innovation drive this rapid transformation. We are playing an active role to enable continuous advancement in these domains through our commitment to the development of robust cyber solutions.
At EDGE, we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in cyber technologies, benefitting both the UAE and our global partners and customers. We strive to build a secure digital ecosystem, thereby contributing to the UAE’s economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness.
- Mansour Mohamed AlMulla
- Mansour oversees the strategic, commercial, and operational management of EDGE Group, covering four strategic business clusters: Platforms & Systems, Missiles & Weapons, Electronic Warfare & Cyber Technologies, and Trading & Mission Support.
- Mansour has over 22 years of broad corporate experience spanning multiple remits including structured finance, capital markets, M&A, strategy, financial planning, risk management, restructuring and business development.
- Prior to joining EDGE, Mansour’s professional career included successful tenures in several leadership positions at major corporations in the UAE, including most recently as Group Chief Investment Officer at ADQ, and various senior management positions at Mubadala Investment Company, including Chief Financial Officer of the Petroleum & Petrochemicals Platform.
- Mansour is also Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB), and a Board member of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC ‘Taqa’, Abu Dhabi Ports Company PJSC, Abu Dhabi Global Market, and Etihad Aviation Group PJSC.
- He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Portland State University in Oregon, USA.
» Interviewed by: «Al Jundi»